There’s a small part of me — a very, very small part, mind you — that can’t wait until Drew Brees leaves the New Orleans Saints, so I can stop getting my heart rate up with this ridiculous argument.
I’ve been hearing it for three or four years now.
There’s a crowd totally convinced the Saints would have been better off trading Brees after the 2013 season in which they just won their first playoff road game and physically took it to the super athletic world champion Seattle Seahawks on the road.
The logic, I guess, is if New Orleans had done that, it would have gone 1-15 or 2-14 for a year or two and then about now would somehow have built themselves up to being a contender again.
Is it possible that would have happened? I guess it’s possible, yes.
If you guarantee me that if the Saints had traded Brees and would have gotten Andrew Luck at No. 1 for it, then I might buy that he’s worth going 1-15 to get.
But Luck was drafted in 2012.
The 2013 draft was horrendous. I’m not sure there are two players from that top 10 I’d want now, and no quarterbacks were taken.
In 2014, the top quarterback taken was Blake Bortles at No. 3. The Jags have drafted top 10 every year since then. No way Bortles is worth going 1-15 to acquire.
I’ll admit the 2015 draft was interesting. No way I would have done it, but at least you could make that argument.
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota both had losing seasons as rookies and then went 9-7 last year, while the Saints were 7-9.
Entering the 2017 season, it seems to me that all three of those teams are on the verge of being playoff contenders and the Saints didn’t have to go 2-14 to get here.
For the record, Tampa Bay was 6-4 in games decided by seven points or less last year, and Tennessee was 6-3. Meanwhile, the Saints lost a franchise record seven games by a touchdown or less.
So I’m supposed to believe that it’s having Brees on the team that forced Sean Payton to keep three awful assistants around for 3-4 years too long? I’m supposed to believe that it’s keeping Brees that forced Payton to make poor placekicking choices all of these years?
I’m supposed to believe that it’s keeping Brees around that led to the three awful special teams disasters that kept New Orleans from going at least 10-6 last year?
Sorry, I just don’t buy it.
It was poor drafting, poor free agency spending and giving the farm to Junior Galette that led to mediocrity in 2014 and '15. Those bad choices had nothing to do with Brees being the quarterback.
As for 2016, no way I’m voting for going 1-15 to get Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. And no way I do it to get Mitchell Trubisky.
Here’s the reality of the situation, folks: There’s only three ways to get to the Super Bowl these days.
One, get an elite quarterback and build around him.
Two, draft a young quarterback who happens to be much better than you realize and have a great defense to go with his affordable salary, i.e., the lucky scenario Seattle enjoyed.
Or three, have a game-manager QB with an historically great defense.
The only one of the three that New Orleans is even close to attaining is first one. It would be insane to ditch on Brees now (or in 2015 or 2016) and just pray that somehow you’d get Luck and not RGIII or Bortles or Tannehill or Goff or Wentz.
That’s nothing but a 70-yard Hail Mary toss.
"Well," you say, "you’d have more money to spend on free agency if the Saints didn’t have Brees." They spent plenty on C.J. Spiller, Jairus Byrd, Brandon Browner and Coby Fleener. Free agent money is just as much of a crapshoot as picking No. 11-16 in the draft every year.
I’ve tried and tried for years to give this stance a chance.
I guess what the opposing viewpoint is thinking is if the Saints didn’t have Brees over the last three seasons, then:
They could have put together a top-flight running back corps behind his Brees’ replacement. Oh wait, they just did.
They could have added a great young receiver for his replacement to throw to? Oh wait, they did that last year.
They could have drafted two young offensive tackles to build a young line for the future? Oh wait, they’ve already done that.
They could have filled their cornerback arsenal with young talent for a change? Oh wait, they just did that, too.
They could have stockpiled two new safeties to add great depth to the secondary? Oh wait, they just finished doing that as well.
They could have upgraded their defensive line with a first-round talent and veteran free agent. Oh wait, they did that. (I know Nick Fairley is out now … I guess he’d still be healthy if Brees wasn’t around?)
They could have finally fired those albatross assistant coaches if Brees wasn’t around. Oh wait, they did that right after last season.
If that philosophy of tanking to get high draft picks worked that well, then teams like the Jaguars, Rams, Browns, Bucs and Bears wouldn’t be drafting in the top 10 all the time.
It also wouldn’t have taken the Raiders and Redskins so long to get competitive again. And remember, Derek Carr was a second-round pick and Kirk Cousins was a third-rounder. The Super Bowl champions could have drafted both of them at 32.
There’s no fool-proof method, but the best move for the Saints since the day they signed him is to keep Brees for as long as they can and just try to make wiser decisions in building around him.